Women In Bollywood Movies Film Studies Essay

Bollywood Films are very unique and a different style of movie when compared to Hollywood. There are many things that are dissimilar in Indian films but here the different viewpoints of women in Bollywood will be explored. Female roles are a major aspect in the Indian film industry. Bollywood films are a major reference to Indian culture. The women in Indian society follow an idol that only does what pleases their beloved other and does not go against his demands. This is a tradition that has been followed for many centuries, to their women society for them to respect and do what the husband wants. These may also alter depending on the environment in which they live in and it is seen in some recent films as the directors are trying to show us the contrast of the modern feminism as it comes into contact with traditional values. The films influence the viewers to observe parts of their own lives. The two films, “Mother India” and “Kal Ho Na Ho” will be further discussed which illustrates different points of view towards women. In these films you can also see how the directors have brought out the roles of each female actor based on how they perceived various aspects in life.

“It is an Indian tradition that women are supposed to show extreme devotion to their husband which is well known as Sakthi or Sati in short (reference).” Only those who live by these traditional norms will gain happiness but as they try to disobey these traditional norms they will be punished have to face the consequences. These traditional norms have been followed since the story of Raman and Sita as Sita cherishes and only does what the husband tells her to. Sita is known as the idol women that every woman should follow. The female role is a major role in the Indian society where the wife is supposed to be dependant on the men and those who aren’t are considered to be one that is seeking for western life such and usually go with the name of Rosie or Mary (reference). Others usually look at these types of women as the ones that would smoke, drink, go to parties and believed to be easily able to get into relationships with, which is very stereotypical. Of courses, these women are constantly punished for such behaviours. Basically Indian Films are a product of their culture and how it is developing as the modern society is taking over. Indian Films do contain scenes of romance although it is very rare where you would find a kissing scene as oppose to more Hollywood or western movies. This is because public kissing in Britain is a code of censorship and therefore it is considered something that is applied with western life (reference). There is a certain extent to where these scenes may go to in their industry and usually to convey their message to the viewers they start the romance scenes but would slowly end it off with taking it behind a bush or with a dreamy sequence with music that would be suitable for that type of situation. There are certain kinds of songs and instruments that are used for situation likes these and those are what will fill in the blank for these scenes in Indian films. In the film “Mother India” the ideal form of mother was the played by the female actor and after she got married she went and lived with her husband. She did everything as her husband wished and even after his death she raised her two sons on her own even in the hardest times. These are the typical characteristics required in the Indian society of a mother. At a point she was unable to feed her children and an old man said that if she pleases him then he will give her food and even then she refuses as she finds other ways to earn money. Here she is still committed to her husband having hope he will return which shows the love and respect she shows as an Indian women, which as another value seen in the Indian society. We can see that in many Indian film women are brought up like this for many years and it is their traditional norm for them to behave in such a manner.

The environment in which a woman is exposed to is also a major impact on the way they feel, think and behave. Women that were raised in a village in India would behave more culturally and homely as for a girl that was to be exposed to an urban environment. These women that live in an urban environment find that they have more freedom in their Indian society. This is because in urban countries such as America, the perspectives of women’s roles are seen differently from the Indian tradition. When these women go to live in an environment like that, they are expected to do what other women there would do and adopt to the societal values seen there. Most women there do more work outdoors like men; they would go to work, they drive, they take care of other business outside along with the men. So as they move into a place like that they would be largely impacted on how they feel and see the role they play from a different view. Women at times can also be treated as if they are in prison, implying that they have no freedom and if they were to do as they wish they would be punished for it. “Directors that are associated with the new films are trying illustrating the present of a very different image of women. They are trying to explore their modernity, past and present individuality and community (reference).” This can be clearly seen in the movie “Kal Ho Na Ho” where the film is set in America. The female actors in the film have a completely different role in comparison to the mother role in the film “Mother India.” The women in this movie had a different attitude with more confidence in their actions and speech. They took on roles of what only men were allowed to do according to the Indian norms and even dressed differently. Usually the female characters are seen wearing saris as in “Mother India” and more covered clothing because that is considered appropriate, but in more urban areas the society is more lenient so they are able to wear clothing as they wish. In the Indian society traditionally pants and shirt was seen as clothing for only men but these directors try to show us the difference of how it is in present days which can be seen in this movie as well. The styles of songs that are given to female actors in the past were more village type of movies where the songs were more cultural with traditional instruments being mainly used. In the more recent films that were taken, such as in “Kal Ho Na Ho” the songs are more modernised with more different types of instruments used to establish that modern feel. These instruments may vary that including violin, piano, flute and so on. Westernized instruments have been given emphasises on to create the different environment that the film is taken in. So the way they act and present themselves is very important to the way the music and songs are conveyed in the movie as well. A correlation can be in the environment on Indian women.

The issues that have influenced the life of women in India are being deeply examined and illustrated through the films by directors. The directors of the movie are the creators of the story and give each character a role in the movie. So basically, it is what the director’s have seen and observed throughout their lives that they will put forth in a movie. The roles of the female characters are based on their own opinion on how they perceive them since they were raised. The majority of the directors are males than females, which is why we can get a clear understanding of how males assign the roles for females even in the two films that have been discussed in this essay; “Mother India by Mehboob Khan” and “Kal Ho Na Ho by Nikhil Advani.” The directors have been trying their best to illustrate in their films how a woman feels about their life, their experiences and problems that they come across from a women’s perspective (reference). Lately there have been many female directors that have been entering the Indian Film industry. A difference can be seen in films directed by females, as the viewpoint is taken from more of the women’s side and it brings out different perspectives of females. Many conflicts have occurred by women based on the critics of the movies taken by male directors, because they feel that the male directors still base their movies on patriarchal leanings (reference). Female directors try to avoid basing their movies on patriarchal leaning and express the capabilities and values of women that are usually omitted. The female director also wants to establish the hardship that they have gone through when obeying this theory and the outcomes of how the consequences that leads to it. Although male directors do attempt to show the past and the present roles of females in their films, however it is still to a minimum extent as opposed to the roles given to men. This can also be seen in some songs in the Bollywood films as the directors are trying to give the female characters a more modern style of singing and behaving, but when observed can be seen that they still shyly base it on the whole theory of patriarchal leanings. An example of this would this would be to see females in songs that rap which is very rare but men would do those roles. However, as society progresses sooner or later this will also be changed by the female directors along with the few other things that are outstanding.

Bollywood films have very different viewpoints on women than you would see in Hollywood films. There are many factors that affect and lead to the outcome of this including the tradition that has been followed for many years. Female appearance is displayed in the Indian film industry based on a culture-specific theory (reference). The environment has also been a huge impact on how females are in the world and this has been explored in the Indian film industry as the recent product of Indian cinema is cultural modernity. Finally it is has been seen that the ideal image of the female role in the films only up to the directors of the movie as they are the one that expose these characters to the world.

***bollywood films and the different viewpoints it has on women**

tradition: women are supposed to be more at home and not go outside

– Raman and Sita: wife respects and does what the husband wants, women’s idol

– ” women who seek to live by the traditional norms find happiness, while those who dare to transgress them are punished and victimised” ; moodle women in Indian cinema

– Mother and wife roles are very important roles in Indian cinema as it can be seen in the movie “Mother India” ; Sakthi or Sati: extreme devotion to her husband

– ” codified behaviour patterns that require the woman to remain secluded, confined to the domestic domain and dependent on the husband” ” the opposite of the wife is the vamp, normally a decadent modern woman, generally with a name like Rosie or Mary. She flouts tradition and seeks to imitate western women. She drinks, smokes, visits night clubs and is quick to fall in and out of love… And she is almost always punished for her unacceptable behaviour.”

– “Indian cinema is a product of cultural modernity in India as few other media have. Yet the woman who chooses to identify herself with modernity is almost always portrayed as decadent and punished for it.”

– Courtesan à devadas

-“..the ways in which the female form is displayed in Indian popular films are culture-specific.

– ” Public kissing ; British code of Censorship applied in Britain : it is associated with western life, so is alien to Indian culture.” How this is conveyedà tribal dress, dream sequences/ wet saris, behind the bush

– ” in the artistic cinema, directors associated with the New Cinema sought to present a very different image of women..” : modernity, past and present, individuality and community.”

– ” The urban environment to which she is exposed is clearly having a profound impact on the way she thinks, feels and acts.”

** ” issues influencing the life of women in India are being increasingly explored through cinema by directors associated with the New Indian Cinema.”

2) the representation of women by women film makers/directors;

– “almost all these directors have shown a great interest in examining the experiences, problems and hardship encountered by women, from the viewpoint of women.”

environment: women have more freedom and do more stuff outside in cities than in their villages